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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 12:14 GMT
SA 'failing rape victims on Aids'
Aids campaigner Zackie Achmat (l) shouts at Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (r)
The health minister (r) has been attacked for her stance on Aids drugs
South Africa's government is not giving rape victims drugs to combat HIV/Aids, as it promised, lobby group Human Rights Watch says.

It says that since the programme to give anti-retroviral drugs to rape victims was announced in 2002, little has actually been done about it.

South Africa has the highest number of HIV positive people in the world - some 5m - and also a high incidence of rape.

Women are more likely to be raped than to learn how to read, statistics show.

Human Rights Watch says that children, who represent 40% of rape victims in the country, are particularly badly affected since they need parental permission to get drug treatment.

'Beetroots'

Report author Rebecca Schleifer told the BBC Network Africa programme that the government has not issued clear and comprehensive information about the programme that provides anti-retroviral drugs to aids patients and rape survivors.

"There is a serious need for this service to be made available in view of this duo epidemic of HIV and sexual violence," she said.

South African Aids campaigners have also accused the government of being slow to distribute the drugs to those with HIV.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says only 2,700 people will receive anti-retroviral drugs by the end of March, far short of the government target of 53,000.

The government refused for a long time to distribute the drugs, saying it would be too expensive and casting doubt on their efficacy.

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has said the provision of drugs could not get under way as her own ministry was in a shambles.

She has previously been quoted as saying that she would not be hurried into providing anti-retroviral drugs, and that beetroot and lemons were part of an ideal diet for people who were HIV positive.

She has also said that people on anti-retroviral drugs might be weaned off in favour of African traditional medicines.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Rebecca Schleifer on BBC Network Africa
"Many rape survivors have not received anti-retroviral drugs"



SEE ALSO:
Rape - silent war on SA women
09 Apr 02  |  Africa
Facing the cost of Aids
03 Dec 03  |  Europe
Food aid to target HIV sufferers
18 Nov 03  |  Africa
UN studies Aids impact on Africa
17 Sep 03  |  Africa


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